American movie star Robert Redford was honored in Paris, France at the Elysee Presidential Palace as he was made a Knight in the French Legion of Honor. President Nicolas Sarkozy presented Redford with the red-ribboned medal while praising him for his film roles which the French people adore, and also for his long-time commitment to environmental causes.
Redford’s wife, painter Sybille Szaggars, was with him when he received the coveted award. The pair were married in July 2009 after being together for twelve years. Sybille, a highly successful abstract artist, originally from Germany, is 21 years younger than the 74-year-old Redford. They live in Sundance, Utah, where Redford has inaugurated the annual Sundance Film Festival which has a reputation as a major launching pad for independent movies by young talent.
Clint Eastwood has previously been made a Knight in the Legion of Honor by former French President Jacques Chirac and in November 2009, he was made a Commander in the Legion of Honor, a step up to grade three on the legion’s five-grade scale. Napoleon Bonaparte created the legion in 1802. It recognizes military, cultural, scientific or social contributions to France, including people who are not French citizens.
Robert Redford spent some time in France after dropping out of college. When he returned to the United States, he decided to try his hand at acting in New York City. His leading role in the 1963 Broadway production of Barefoot in the Park brought him to prominence and opened the door to Hollywood. Four years later, he starred in the movie version of Barefoot in the Park with co-star Jane Fonda.
It was his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid alongside Paul Newman which made him a superstar and gave him the oft-used sobriquet “Sundance Kid.” Successful movies followed giving him a huge fan base. These included The Way We Were, The Sting, The Great Gatsby, All the President’s Men, The Natural and Out of Africa which continue to delight audiences. He also directed A River Runs Through It and Lions for Lambs.
Very few Hollywood veterans can boast the triumphs which Robert Redford has in his resume. He is loved by both his male and female fans. His contribution to the film industry is remarkable. He certainly deserves the recognition he received in France – a Knight in the Legion of Honor.
The Buffalo News, 10/15/2010